2013 final NFL power rankings: The fat part of the curve

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 season is over, and the 7-9 St. Louis Rams ended up in the jumbled mass of mediocrity in the middle of the year-end power rankings.

A total of 13 NFL teams finished at .500 or within two games of an 8-8 record. That includes the St. Louis Rams, who wrapped up a 7-9 season with a Week 17 loss in Seattle. It's the 10th season in a row that the Rams have finished without a winning record.

But they're getting better. Kind of. Maybe. Hopefully.

Celebration over a smattering of late-season meaningless wins is becoming a hallmark of the Jeff Fisher era Rams. And why not, it's at least better than the kind of season the team put forward during its decade-long effort to sour the city on professional football.

The Rams have finally taken their place among the mediocre. And that's exactly where they landed in the year-end power rankings, coming in at No. 17, wedged between the Ravens and the Lions ... hey, good company.

New Year's Resolution - Prioritize. The Rams dealt the #2 pick in the 2012 draft for a haul ... and saw a potential franchise QB land in Washington. They find themselves holding the #2 pick in 2014, courtesy of those selfsame Redskins, and have already declared themselves "open for business" and up for trading down. While capturing value in the draft is always a worthy goal, nothing is worth trading past the spot where you can grab your quarterback of the future. And make no mistake - Sam Bradford is not the quarterback of the future. (Last week: 16)

I don't care where you stand on the Rams' quarterback issue, but you can expect to hear a lot more of that in the national media. Quarterbacks, rightly or wrongly, become the lightning rods for underachieving teams (or heroes for overachieving teams). Hell, Peter King was ready to send Cam Newton to the CFL before the Panthers' Week 16 game against the Saints ended with the QB delivering the game-winner.

A decade is a long time to be without a winning season, and four years is a long time for a quarterback to make his mark.

Fortunately, the Rams have another offseason and another pile of draft picks to put things on track. The cap situation isn't so rosy (right now, they don't have the room to sign those draft picks), but the other arrows are pointing up. The right moves this spring and another year of experience under the belt of a young team will have the Rams competing in a tough NFC West come 2014.

Eight seasons of chronicling this franchise's annual shit show has definitely fed my cynicism and finely tuned my B.S. meter. If I sound negative at times, it's because I'm not willing to celebrate or even settle for seven-win seasons. Sure, it takes time to rebuild, especially for a team prone to screwing up its perpetual rebuilding efforts. I'll be much happier about a Week 16 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win it's one more notch on the way to a playoff birth.

But I'm still here ... we're still here. And that means we all have at least some faith in this team. We'll expect better things in 2014, regardless of whoever is playing quarterback or any other position.

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